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Old May 9, 2009, 09:20 AM   #1
CountBrass
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Really bad service at the Bullring Apple store

I've generally not had a very happy experience at the Apple Store in Birmingham's (UK) Bullring.

I've shopped there regularly since it opened a few years ago and generally I know exactly what I want and I want to go in, buy it and get out.

Now I don't know whether the problem is just with staff at the Bullring store or perhaps it's a general problem with Apple's retail store because 4 out of 5 times that just doesn't happen and it's entirely down to the poor service from the staff.

I've been in there with a BIG queue waiting to pay, only 1 person operating the tills but with 2-3 Apple employees standing behind him chatting and 2 or 3 more dusting Macs, tidying iPods. Anythng but, God forbid, actually serving customers. I took several pictures of this and sent them to Apple (Jobs@ and Bulliring@) but never received a response.

Today though I experienced the ultimate in bad service combos: every individual bad experience I've had over the years was reprised in today's encounter.

I arrived at the Apple store at about 12:50pm. Started queuing. Eventually a member of staff notices me and ask what would I like. I say I'd like to buy a Mac Pro, 2.66GHz, 8-core, 12GB of memory and the ATI graphics. "Wow" he says that's an impressive spec... o'rly. "Let me find you a concierge personal shopper to help you." This entailed registering on their web site using one of the store machines and then salesperson #1 disappears.

It's now about 1pm. About 1:05 and salesperson #2 appears, lady in an orange top. "I understand you're here for the concierge service?". "Actually no, I'm here to buy a Mac Pro". "I'll send you the concierge when one is available". Salesperson #2 disappears.

About 5 minutes later salesperson #3 turns up. "I'd like to buy a Mac Pro, 2.66GHz, 8 core, 12Gb of memory with the ATI graphics card. And I'd like to use the education discount, here's a General Teaching Council card." Salesperson #3 seems to think I might be better off with a business discount (why I don't know, I'm not a business) and disappears into the back of the store to "check". It's about 1.10pm when he re-appears again. "What was it you wanted?" (I repeat for the third time the Mac Pro I want) "hmm and you want the 12GB of memory fitted?" .... "Yes of course". He disappears into the back again.

About 5-10 minutes later it's about 1.20pm and salesperson #4 shows up. "Hello I'm the business manager" says the rather scruffy guy with a pork pie hat on his head "I'm afraid that we don't have the ATI card in stock."

I then tried to complain to the store manager. After, yes you guessed it, hanging around being ignored for 10 minutes I finally got salesperson #2 to get me the store manager. Salesperson #5 turns up. I ask him if he's the store manager and he tells me no he isn't. At this point I just walked out.

So after wasting 40 minutes of my time, passing me back and forth between FIVE different salespeople they finally tell me they don't have a component of the Mac Pro I've been asking for. Despite the fact that I told them right at the beginning *exactly* what I wanted.

Is this typical Apple Store service or is the Bullring store just really, really crap?

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Old May 9, 2009, 09:27 AM   #2
sparkie7
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erm.. how about Apple Store online?
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Old May 9, 2009, 09:35 AM   #3
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I've been in there with a BIG queue waiting to pay, only 1 person operating the tills but with 2-3 Apple employees standing behind him chatting and 2 or 3 more dusting Macs, tidying iPods. Anythng but, God forbid, actually serving customers.
Were you paying with cash or a check? In the US, most stores only have one till (for cash and checks), whereas every Specialist (in the light blue shirts) has a wireless EasyPay that can ring out a card-based transaction -- no need to get in a line.

In the US, the Specialists (in the light blue shirts) are the ones that fetch the computers and ring up the sales. There aren't usually enough Specialists to go around, so Apple has Concierges (in the orange shirts) that go around and essentially queue people up so that when a Specialist becomes available, customers are helped in a first-in, first-out order. (That's why they have you sign into the queue on the computer -- that adds you to the list).

Unfortunately, for busy stores, the best bet if you just want to "walk in and buy a computer and walk out" is to make a Personal Shopping appointment from home in advance. Then when you get to the store, you don't have to be added to the queue, blah blah blah.
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Old May 9, 2009, 09:38 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by CountBrass View Post
Now I don't know whether the problem is just with staff at the Bullring store or perhaps it's a general problem with Apple's retail store
Sorry to hear that, but the service here in St. Louis, MO (USA) is excellent.
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Old May 9, 2009, 09:43 AM   #5
CountBrass
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Originally Posted by sparkie7 View Post
erm.. how about Apple Store online?
I've always found the online store to be excellent it's just delivery that's problematic: arranging to be in all day is a pain.

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Originally Posted by aristobrat View Post
Were you paying with cash or a check? In the US, most stores only have one till (for cash and checks), whereas every Specialist (in the light blue shirts) has a wireless EasyPay that can ring out a card-based transaction -- no need to get in a line.
Card, which pretty much everyone in store seems to be able to handle. The problem was that even though having to go through the whole "Concierge" process was vexing even once I was being dealt with by my "personal shopper" I didn't get anywhere.

Last edited by ergdegdeg; May 9, 2009 at 09:45 AM. Reason: merging consecutive posts
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Old May 9, 2009, 10:27 AM   #6
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Retail stores generally only stock the base models, or popular CTO models - your spec'd up machine simply wouldn't be buyable from Apple retail.

I generally find the Bullring to be quite good, although one or two of their geniuses are asses.
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Old May 9, 2009, 12:28 PM   #7
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I've always had great service from the Bullring store and my friends have also had the same experience. If anything, I've sometimes found the staff a little too helpful at times. You should phone them up and ask to talk to one of the managers.

If you still get no joy, you could always try the Touchwood store and see if you get on better there?
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Old May 9, 2009, 04:18 PM   #8
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Sounds like you caught a bunch of noobs while the regulars were on lunch or something, ha....

the whole trip was an exercise in timewasting anyway - you can't stroll in and get a config like that... it's like going into M&S expecting a tailored suit

the CS buck-passing isn't excusable though... I usually have a pretty good time in the Store, the staff are usually a little too interested!
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Old May 9, 2009, 04:37 PM   #9
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Sorry to hear that, but the service here in St. Louis, MO (USA) is excellent.
im in st louis mo too which to do you go to i personally go to west county and it is great there
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Old May 9, 2009, 05:50 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by CountBrass View Post
Now I don't know whether the problem is just with staff at the Bullring store or perhaps it's a general problem with Apple's retail
Sorry to hear about your disappointing retail experience. The store here in Osaka, Japan is fantastic!!! Never once been made to wait for any extensive amounts of time..
Oh and after-care/repairs has been swift too!! Often one day turnaround! They'll even call you once it's ready!!

Maybe that's just Japan...


FYI: CTO's are possible IF they have parts in stock but as a general rule, CTO's are web only.
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Old May 9, 2009, 06:25 PM   #11
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It does sometimes amaze me how "weird" the Apple store experience can be. I find they have a great process but if you know what you want it can kinda be annoying if it is not off the shelf.

If I was presented with that order I would be treating you like a VIP... not that any order should be treated as rubbish, just your spending a shed load and deserve to be treated quickly and get what you want being served by somebody that knows what you are talking about.

What they wanted in your case was to book a personal shopper etc.... I think the business specialist was mentioned is they prob don't sell that many Mac Pro's to Joe public.

I have found that if you know what you want they seem worse than if you browse and ask for help!

I think the issue is that most of the people who do know what they want know more than a few of the standard sales staff about machines and this is usually because we know our stuff.

I had awesome service from the Bullring back in the days when we had no stores in Manchester. They sold me my first Mac and it was through the sales staff that I became a Mac user. It's a longer story than that but I know deal mainly with Apple in the Trafford Centre and those guys always sort me out.
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Old May 10, 2009, 04:12 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by CountBrass View Post
I've been in there with a BIG queue waiting to pay, only 1 person operating the tills but with 2-3 Apple employees standing behind him chatting and 2 or 3 more dusting Macs, tidying iPods. Anythng but, God forbid, actually serving customers. I took several pictures of this and sent them to Apple (Jobs@ and Bulliring@) but never received a response.
It may not actually matter how many guys are on the floor. For Mac sales they set your machine up for you in the back room and you typically have to sign a bunch of crap. It there's only two techs in the back room for example they may only be able to process orders every 15 to 20 minutes or something. If such were the case it wouldn't matter about the other lackys slagging off and answering the odd customer inquires or dusting.

To me the Apple Store is basically a show-room. It doesn't seem to be geared for machine sales. Other than the iPods they sell to pay the rent I mean. Heck, half the machines are only available through the on line store.

Whenever I use the apple store as a showroom I've been relatively satisfied. For harder technical question or for sales processing like your own experience I find it umm, below average.
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Old May 10, 2009, 05:14 AM   #13
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I wonder how many Mac Pros really get sold through UK Apple Stores. I mean, of course they should be able to sell them. But they can be highly configurated and I can kind of understand them not having all the upgrades available same-day in the store.

It's poor service for sure, but I'm not so shocked that you couldn't walk out with the Mac Pro you wanted. They should have said they'd have it ready for you next day.
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Old May 10, 2009, 02:02 PM   #14
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I've been to the Bull Ring store several times, and if you want to buy an iPod or something mainstream like that, it's fine. I'd stick with the on-line store, if you want something as "niche" as a Mac Pro. And never buy extra memory from Apple unless there's a good reason, as you can get it much cheaper from Crucial or wherever.

I bought my MacBook Air from the same store. I walked straight up to a salesman, said "I'd like to buy a MacBook Air, please". He gawped at me for a few seconds for some reason, and eventually regained his composure and led me through a very slow process that took twenty minutes and which ended with me walking out with a box containing a laptop. Twenty minutes to buy a laptop! I spent most of that waiting for it to be bought up from the storeroom, which was apparently only downstairs but may as well have been in Coventry.

I've always been a bit disappointed by Apple Stores. I've been in four: Regent Street, the Bull Ring, Manchester Trafford Centre and Vancouver (British Columbia). They've got some nice things, but if you want to buy anything, you have to wade through throngs of people surfing the web or messing around with iPods. The sales people seem to be practically unobtainable (unless you're just browing, in which case you're usually pestered within five seconds of entering the store). The whole thing is poorly designed and poorly executed and somewhat overrated.

CountBrass: I'd write an email to Steve Jobs, explaining what went on, even if he didn't respond last time. Emphasise how much money you were prepared to spend (thousands) and stress how disappointed you were, and how much of a fan you are of Apple's products. Find out the manager's name and send him a letter or an email. Write/email Apple UK as well and let them know your thoughts. They obviously didn't know what to do with you, and they're not going to know what they did wrong unless someone (e.g. you) tells them.
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Old May 10, 2009, 03:06 PM   #15
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If they're anything like the Apple stores in the US, most of the employees are baked.
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Old May 10, 2009, 03:20 PM   #16
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I've always had really bad service there.

There's an American guy with loads of tattoo's and a pale, blonde haired girl - best 2 members of staff there, that I've dealt with.

Oh, and there's 2 gay guys, one of them is *super* helpful and knows what he's talking about.

The other one is just really queenie and I find it hard to get him to stop talking to other members of staff and snooping at the Geniuses and actually do something - like take my money.

Its the only Apple Store where I don't know if I'm doing the right thing by waiting in line to pay. No one is ever there!!

I have to track someone down in the tiny store, and tell them "I want to pay for this, like now, please?" and then someone finally comes to accept payment.

SO disorganised.

And the Geniuses, don't even get me started. There's a black guy and he's the moodiest, unreasonable person I have ever met in my whole entire life.

The other Genius, pretty large white guy, is super.

Just me.. and I've shopped there a lot.
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Old May 11, 2009, 03:12 PM   #17
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I wonder how many Mac Pros really get sold through UK Apple Stores. I mean, of course they should be able to sell them. But they can be highly configurated and I can kind of understand them not having all the upgrades available same-day in the store.

It's poor service for sure, but I'm not so shocked that you couldn't walk out with the Mac Pro you wanted. They should have said they'd have it ready for you next day.
No way. I configured one online and it won't even ship for at least 5 days. If they offered such service in the store, there'd definitely be more than a day's wait time!
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Old May 12, 2009, 07:20 AM   #18
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Before I start I'd like to say that I have purchased an iMac, MacBook and my girlfriend has purchased a MBP from here. Each time has been a pleasure, 1 particular member of staff is very helpful, I believe his name is Benj.

Here are some tips for you to have a more pleasurable experience.

Book a shopping appointment, even if you know what you want if you turn up on time you will be served straight away. Secondly the personal shopper will be able to put it through for you using the electronic till on their belt, make sure you are paying by card.

Secondly call up before your appointment and get them to put the machine asside for you before you get there, or at least check they have it in stock.

Finally, don't try and buy a fully customised MP in store! They really only sell the stock configs, IF they will customise it for you it will take them time. The genius will have to put it together for you but this can take several hours because they test it thoroughly. Also they would have had to give you the stock GPU and the one you requested so it would have cost more!
If the genius is busy then you will have to wait a day or two untill they can slot you in!

The lesson here is if you wish to customise a MP buy it online.

I wont go into details on the RAM as many have covered it but it is v. easy to do your self and much cheaper from crucial.
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Old May 12, 2009, 07:36 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by peskaa View Post
Retail stores generally only stock the base models, or popular CTO models - your spec'd up machine simply wouldn't be buyable from Apple retail.

I generally find the Bullring to be quite good, although one or two of their geniuses are asses.
Hi sorry to hijack the thread, but which geniuses in particular, beacuse im haveing big issues with the Bullring apple store right now. please see this thread for more details....


http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=695133

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Old May 12, 2009, 08:13 AM   #20
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The one I remember in particular was a white, thin, tall guy with dark floppy long hair. Really bad attitude problem, although he did do the repair (crack on a white MacBook). I don't have names though, sorry.

Some of the other geniuses however are great. I had a repair exception from CS for a 23" ACD that had gone pink, and they just gave me another one rather than making me pay labour that the exception stated.
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Old May 12, 2009, 09:24 AM   #21
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1 particular member of staff is very helpful, I believe his name is Benj.
Are you sure its not MJ?

MJ sounds a lot like Ben Jay (Benj).

He's the really super guy I mentioned in my post.
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Old May 13, 2009, 12:02 PM   #22
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Are you sure its not MJ?

MJ sounds a lot like Ben Jay (Benj).

He's the really super guy I mentioned in my post.
No it was literally said as Benj as opposed to Ben J. What did your guy look like?
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